Residents in some of the closest houses to the Bradley surface mine in County Durham have backed plans for a small extension to the site.

Earlier this month, North East employer Banks Mining announced that it had submitted a planning application for a small extension to its surface mining operations on land to the west of the Bradley site, which sits off the A692 Pont Road between Leadgate and Dipton.

And now, Tracy Bone, David Graham and Jack French, who all live on Pont Road directly adjacent or close to the site, have all given their support to Banks’ new proposals.

The proposed Bradley West extension covers 18.5 hectares of land between the western edge of the current Bradley site and the Jolly Drovers public house roundabout.

It would provide continued employment for the 36 people currently working at Bradley, more than half of whom live within ten miles of the site, as well as additional investment in the local supply chain, and would also allow Banks Mining to increase its support for local community groups and charities from the Bradley community benefits fund from £52,000 to £100,000.

Jack French, who moved to the area four years ago, says: “We’ve watched the Bradley site take shape over the last couple of years and have hardly noticed any impact on our area, if any at all.

“The extension will be closer to where we live, but it’s not a concern for us and Banks has been in regular touch to let us know what they’re hoping will be happening next year.

“If we’re going to use coal in the UK for industry, there’s more sense in mining what we have instead of having to pay to ship imports from overseas.”

Tracy Bone, who has lived in the area all her life, adds: “The Bradley site has had absolutely no impact on me and my family, and I see no reason not to let the lads get on with working on the extension.

“We live very close to the site, but we hear minimal noise coming from it and the vehicles that are entering and leaving it don’t stand out from the rest of the local traffic.”

David Graham says: “We don’t hear anything from the Bradley mine or see any local impacts, and I’m not at all concerned by the prospect of the extension being opened up.”

Banks Mining is looking to extract around 90,000 tonnes of high-quality coal for supply to UK industrial customers and 20,000 tonnes of fireclay for use by regional brickmakers from the new area.

And the family-owned firm has reiterated its commitment to completing operational and restoration work there to the same August 2021 deadline to which the existing Bradley site is operating if it is able to move the project forward through a positive local planning decision.

Lewis Stokes, community relations manager at The Banks Group, says: “Listening to and supporting our local communities is important to us and has helped us establish the high environmental standards and positive benefits of our operations.

“We believe it is important that we supply the essential industrial users of coal and fireclay because we can do it for half the greenhouse emissions of importing coal from far-away places, and while we do so we support British not Russian jobs and the local community can benefit.”

The Bradley West planning application is expected to be considered by Durham County Council’s planning committee in spring next year.